Ethics for Engineers

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2019-03-28
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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An essential all-in-one introduction, Ethics for Engineers provides in-depth coverage of major ethical theories, professional codes of ethics, and case studies in a single volume. Incorporating numerous practical examples and about 100 review questions, it helps students better understand and address ethical issues that they may face in their future careers. Topics covered include whistle-blowing, the problem of many hands, gifts, bribes, conflicts of interest, engineering and environmental ethics, privacy and computer ethics, ethical technology assessment, and the ethics of cost-benefit analysis and risk and uncertainty.

Author Biography

Martin Peterson is Professor of Philosophy and the Sue and Harry Bovay Professor of History and Ethics of Professional Engineering at Texas A&M University. His recent books include The Ethics of Technology: A Geometric Analysis of Five Moral Principles (OUP, 2017) and An Introduction to Decision Theory, Second Edition (2017).

Table of Contents

Each chapter ends with Review Questions, References, and Further Readings.
List of Cases
Chapter 1. Introduction
The Engineering Profession
The Value of Technology
Engineering Ethics and the Law
On Ethics and Morality
Chapter 2. Professional Codes of Ethics
Why are Professional Codes of Ethics Important?
The NSPE Code
The IEEE and ACM Codes
Contributory Reasons and Moral Dilemmas
Proper Engineering Decisions versus Proper Management Decisions
Chapter 3. A Brief History of Engineering
Prehistoric Technology
Ancient Engineering (5000 BC-500 AD)
Medieval Engineering (c. 500-1400)
Early Modern Engineering (c. 1400-1700)
The Industrial Revolution (c. 1700-1900)
Modern Engineering (c. 1900-)
Chapter 4. A Methodological Toolbox
Facts and Values
Are Moral Claims Objective, Subjective, or Relative?
Applied Ethics and Ethical Theories
Chapter 5. Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism
The Right and the Good
How Should the Good Be Distributed?
Some Objections to Utilitarianism
Ethical Egoism
Chapter 6. Duties, Virtues, and Rights
Kant's Duty Ethics
The Universalization Test
Means to an End and Respect for Persons
Virtue Ethics
Some Objections to Virtue Ethics
Chapter 7. Whistle-blowing: Should You Ever Break with Protocol?
The Definition of Whistle-blowing
When Is Whistle-blowing Morally Permissible?
Advice to Whistle-blowers
Chapter 8. Conflicts of Interest: When Is It Permissible to Influence the Actions of Others?
What Is a Conflict of Interest?
Why Conflicts of Interests Should Almost Always Be Avoided
International Engineering
Chapter 9. Cost-benefit Analysis: Do the Ends Justify the Means?
The Value of a Human Life
Cost-benefit Analysis and Utilitarianism
Can We Put a Price on the Environment and Historic Artifacts?
Chapter 10. Risk and Uncertainty: How Safe Is Safe Enough?
The Engineering Definition of Risk
The Precautionary Principle
Risk and Informed Consent
Risk Aversion
Chapter 11. Privacy: What Is It and Why Should It Be Protected?
Privacy as a Moral Right
Privacy as a Moral Value
What Can Engineers Do to Protect Privacy?
Chapter 12. The Problem of Many Hands: Who Is Responsible and Should Anyone Be Blamed?
What Is Responsibility?
The Problem of Many Hands
Moral Responsibilty and Collective Outcomes
Chapter 13. Technology Assessments and Social Experiments
Technology Assessment
New Technologies as Social Experiments
Some Critical Questions
Chapter 14. A Critical Attitude to Technology
The Imperative of Responsibility
Between Pessimism and Optimism
Chapter 15. The Ethics of Artifacts
What's So Special about Technological Artifacts?
Can Artifacts Be Value-laden?
Can Artifacts Be Hybrid Agents?
Technology as a Way of Revealing
Chapter 16. Sustainability
Three Notions of Sustainability
The Instrumental Value of Sustainability
The Noninstrumental Value of Sustainability
Imperceptible Harms and the Tragedy of the Commons
Appendix A: Professional Codes of Ethics
Appendix B: Essay Questions

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